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434                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
was captured, but the Afghan swordsmen drove the
besiegers back and nearly two thousand of them were
killed or wounded. Perovski, the Pole, was killed, and
Samson, who led the battalion of Russian deserters, was
wounded.
The Shah was utterly dejected, though, like a Persian,
he derived much consolation from the fact that the plan of
attack which failed had been drawn up by a Russian ;
rumour, too, had magnified the scope of the British opera-
tions in the Persian Gulf. He was consequently ready to
listen to Colonel Stoddart,1 who was sent to him by McNeill,
and, after hearing Stoddart's message, replied in the words
which form a heading to this chapter. Rumours of the
expedition to reinstate Shah Shuja on the throne assisted
the triumph of British policy. Simonich lost all influence,
and the Shah finally left Herat without coming to any
agreement with its. ruler. Thus ended the celebrated
siege.
The First Afghan J¥ar, 1838-1842.—The siege of
Herat, which to all appearances was bound to fall into
the hands of Persia and to be followed by the capture or
submission of Kandahar, if not of Kabul, reacted most un-
favourably on the political situation in India. Rumours
of a Moslem invasion filled the bazaars, public securities
declined in value, and the speedy end of British rule was
foretold. Under these adverse conditions Lord Auckland
and his advisers decided to make a counter-stroke, and,
as they were hostile to Dost Mahomed, Shah Shuja2 was
the chosen instrument of their policy. In the first
instance it was proposed to induce Ranjit Singh to co-
operate with Shah Shuja by advancing through the Khyber
Pass on Kabul, while Shah Shuja himself marched on the
capital by Kandahar at the head of an army recruited by
himself. This project was duly agreed to by both the
principals, but it was then pointed out to Lord Auckland
that without a British force it would almost certainly
miscarry. As Kaye puts it, since Mohamed Shah was
1  Stoddart was afterwards sent by Sir John M'Neill to Bokhara, with instructions to
make a treaty and obtain the release of Russian prisoners.   Owing, perhaps, to the
intrigues of Yar Mohamed, he was first imprisoned and then murdered by the Amir.
2  His full title was Shsja-uUMulk, or " The Valour of the Country,11